The blame game: Who said what about Djokovic’s cancelled visa
The world’s No. 1 tennis player, Novak Djokovic, had his visa cancelled on Thursday morning on his arrival in Melbourne, where he had been hoping to win his 10th Australian Open.
On Thursday afternoon, he launched a last-minute bid in the Federal Circuit Court to stop the federal government from deporting him.
World men’s No.1 Novak Djokovic has had his visa rejected.Credit:AP
Meanwhile, the Victorian state government, federal government and Tennis Australia have faced a barrage of questions about how the situation has unfolded.
Here is what has been said.
“The federal government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia. We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open … We’ve always been clear on two points: visa approvals are a matter for the federal government, and medical exemptions are a matter for doctors.”
Victorian Sports Minister Jaala Pulford on Twitter at 11.14pm on Wednesday
“The ABF did not request Victorian government support for a visa. The ABF reached out to the Victorian government to validate their public statements about their support for Mr Djokovic’s entry, and whether Victoria had further information related to his medical exemption documentation.”
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews on Twitter at 9.18am on Thursday
Acting Sports Minister Jaala Pulford and Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley. Credit:Luis Ascui
“The ABF can confirm that Mr Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has been subsequently cancelled. Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa cancelled will be detained and removed from Australia.”
Australian Border Force in a statement published on Thursday morning
“I want to thank the border officers for doing their job. I am advised that such an exemption [for Djokovic] was not in place, and as a result, he is subject to the same rule as anyone else. I also want to stress that, ultimately, this is the responsibility of the traveller. It is for the traveller to be able to assert and back up their ability to come into the country consistent with our laws.
“I am unaware of the Victorian government position on whether they were prepared to allow him to not have to quarantine or not … Tennis Australia, as I understand, said that he could play and that is fine, that is their call. But we make the call on the border and that is where it is enforced.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a press conference on Thursday morning
“The Commonwealth lets you into the country. Tennis Australia, in partnership with the state, lets you into the tournament … Someone issued Novak Djokovic a visa, and it wasn’t the Victorian government. I’m not blaming the Commonwealth on anything. All I’m saying is that there is a two-step process to get into the country. You get into the country, that’s the Commonwealth of Australia’s responsibility.”
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley at a press conference on Thursday morning
“Our authorities are taking all measures to stop the harassment of the best tennis player in the world in the shortest possible period … In accordance with the norms of international public law, Serbia will fight for Novak Djokovic, for justice and truth.”
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Instagram early on Thursday
“Maybe the rich world will not let ‘Nole’ [Novak] play tennis any more, but by doing that it will have revealed its true face and a much more serious game will thus begin. On one side, there will be greedy and arrogant members of the world’s oligarchy, and on the other, the whole freedom-loving and proud world which still believes in justice, the truth, fair play and their children’s dreams.”
Srdjan Djokovic, Novak’s father, on Thursday in Serbian newspaper Telegraf
“We need to remember one thing … even if you are angry, Novak Djokovic did not set the rules. For those asking, all players go through the same visa process overseen by Tennis Australia to play the Australian Open (as non-Australians are currently not able to enter). So it beggars belief that Djokovic is the only player that has had his visa granted and then rescinded.”
Former Australian Open tournament director Paul McNamee on Twitter on Thursday morning
“Having been granted a visa, Djokovic had every right to think he would be allowed to enter Australia. Indeed, he did have a legal right. He would have used that visa to board a plane to Australia. At all major overseas airports with direct flights to Australia, there are Australian Border Force officers who assist airline staff to decide who can board a plane to Australia. Why didn’t the relevant Border Force official advise airline staff to prevent Djokovic from boarding, given the uncertainties about his vaccination status and his eligibility for an exemption?”
Former deputy secretary of the Department of Immigration Abul Rizvi
“ATAGI [the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation] advises that past infection with SARS-CoV-2 is not a contraindication to vaccination … ATAGI is not responsible for border control issues, however the Australian Border Force has advised that people must meet the fully vaccinated definition set by ATAGI to gain quarantine-free entry into Australia.”
Letter from Department of Health first assistant secretary Lisa Schofield to Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley on November 18
“Australian Border Force has advised that people must be fully vaccinated, as defined by the ATAGI, to gain quarantine-free entry into Australia … I can confirm that people who contracted COVID-19 within six months and seek to enter Australia from overseas, and have not received two doses of a Therapeutic Goods Administration-approved or TGA-recognised vaccine … are not considered fully vaccinated.”
Letter from federal Health Minister Greg Hunt to Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley on November 29
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